Yes, even pets need to lose a lit­tle weight from time to time

The Wokingham Paper - - LEISURE - With Katie Love

ITHINK it’s safe to say many of us are feel­ing a lit­tle out of shape fol­low­ing the ex­cesses of Christ­mas and New Year. With that in mind we thought we would take the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss obe­sity in pets, which is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly com­mon is­sue.

In the UK, the PDSA char­ity re­port that one in three dogs, one in four cats and one in four rab­bits are obese.

An­i­mals that are over­weight have short­ened life spans, their qual­ity of life is ad­versely af­fected, and they are pre­dis­posed to other con­di­tions in­clud­ing os­teoarthri­tis, di­a­betes mel­li­tus and cer­tain types of neo­pla­sia.

So how do we know whether our pets are over­weight?

There is no per­fect weight for in­di­vid­ual breeds and we would not rec­om­mend look­ing at breed spe­cific weight charts that can be found on­line.

The best ap­proach is to look at your pet’s body shape and as­sess body fat.

We would ex­pect the an­i­mal to have a vis­i­ble waist, with the body ta­per­ing from the ribcage when viewed from above.

Can you feel your pet’s ribcage? You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs with­out an ex­cess cov­er­ing of fat and if you can­not, then it may be time to make some changes.

Diet is key to tack­ling obe­sity. A good qual­ity diet fed in pro­por­tions guided by the pet food man­u­fac­turer is key.

We would also ad­vise weigh­ing food be­fore feed­ing. A lit­tle ex­tra ev­ery day can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on weight gain.

Also do not for­get that man­u­fac­turer’s guid­ance on feed­ing is a gen­eral rule of thumb. Suggested pro­por­tions can vary a lit­tle de­pend­ing on the pet’s life­style.

Treats are sig­nif­i­cant cause of obe­sity, es­pe­cially in our ca­nine com­pan­ions. Many of our pets have learnt to beg and it can be very tempt­ing to give in to plead­ing eyes.

A lit­tle goes a long way.

Feed­ing a dog one hu­man bis­cuit is the equiv­a­lent of a wo­man eat­ing a ham­burger and for a cat one crisp the equiv­a­lent of eat­ing half a ham­burger.

A food di­ary can be in­valu­able for mak­ing us re­alise just how many ex­tras we are feed­ing our pets.

In­creas­ing the amount of ex­er­cise for our pets can also be help­ful.

In­creas­ing the length of a walk by 10 min­utes can make a huge dif­fer­ence or you can sim­ply in­crease the fre­quency of them.

An al­ter­na­tive to ex­tra walks is an ex­tra play ses­sion with ball throw­ing in the gar­den. We ap­pre­ci­ate it is dif­fi­cult to ex­er­cise your cat but play ses­sions can cer­tainly help.

If you are strug­gling to diet your pet then please do feel free to pop in to see us.

We can guide you on suitable calo­rie con­trolled di­ets, feed­ing habits, ex­er­cise and give you weight tar­gets. There are also some­times med­i­cal rea­sons why they may not be los­ing weight.

A fairly com­mon con­di­tion in dogs is an un­der­ac­tive thy­roid gland or hy­pothy­roidism. This oc­curs when the thy­roid func­tion is below nor­mal. Thy­roid hor­mone con­trols the body’s me­tab­o­lism and so as a re­sult the me­tab­o­lism slows down, the dog feels lethar­gic and gains weight.

It is easy to di­ag­nose with a sim­ple blood test and treat­able with daily med­i­ca­tion. In­ter­est­ingly, this is not a con­di­tion we see in cats. An­other com­mon rea­son for our pets gain­ing weight is slow­ing down due to arthri­tis. We can of­ten pre­scribe pain re­lief so they can con­tinue to en­joy ex­er­cise which will help to pre­vent pil­ing on the pounds which in­evitably makes arthri­tis worse.

So if you have any con­cerns about your pet’s weight or ex­er­cise regime we would be de­lighted to help. Please feel free to give us a call. From all of us here at St Vin­cents, we wish you and your pets a happy and healthy 2019!

Katie Love is a vet­eri­nary sur­geon at St Vin­cents Vet­eri­nary Surgery, an in­de­pen­dent prac­tice of­fer­ing per­sonal care for all your pets. Katie has a keen in­ter­est in fe­line medicine and can be con­tacted at the surgery if you have any con­cerns about your pet’s health.

Lu­cie, a hy­pothy­roid dog, be­fore and af­ter start­ing treat­ment with St Vin­cents

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.